When you start running for the first time, it pays to set aside time for cross-training, which means doing other types of exercises to complement your course. Cross-training prevents you from overworking the same muscles every time you work out and is ideal for building endurance.
It ensures that you work on parts of your body other than your legs, which is great for weight loss and ensures that your physique is balanced and well formed. Swap the road for the gym once or twice a week and try out some of the available equipment.
The crosstrainer is a friend of the runner, because you can work your whole body. Many riders use the cross-trainer to rehabilitate after an injury or to track longer distances to increase their cardio system. Cycling is a great way to increase your heart rate and still has little effect on your joints. A 30-minute spinning class can help push your aerobic system to its limits, which ensures that your system can pull additional fuel reserves when needed.
Core and strength exercises in themselves warrant a dedicated session. A strong core helps to keep your body healthy and balanced. Most running injuries are caused by a muscle imbalance; for example, tight hips can cause painful knees, and a weak core can see you overuse your leg muscles and add extra impact to your joints.
Sit-ups, lungs and squats help you to become a better runner. Consider also using your core strength session as an stretch session and run through all the cool-down stretches you would normally do after a running session, but hold the poses for longer, breathe deeply and push the stretch further as you exhale. This prevents your muscles from tightening while you are running.
Cross-training doesn’t just have to be done in the gym; you can easily use your travel to work as an opportunity to work in an extra session. Leave the car at home and cycle instead or leave the bus a few stops earlier and take the rest of the way by power. Establishing a simple home circuit is a great way to fit in a cross-training session, as it can be done with little or no equipment at any time. Come up with a series of exercises that can be done around the house and perform every exercise for 60 seconds, with a break of 15 seconds until all the exercises are completed.
Start with a single circuit and you can repeat the same circuit several times with a break of a few minutes between the two. Things such as lungs, squats, press-ups, sit-ups, etc. need no equipment and can be done in even the smallest of spaces. You can find a few bottles of water and use them for a variety of weight exercises, such as bicep and tricep curls, shoulder presses and dead elevators. Then look at what you have around the house–a chair for tricep dips can be used; the stairs can be used for calf raises and a wall can be used for vertical pressing.
Use a little imagination and work home whenever you like. If you get injured while running, cross- training can ensure that you keep your fitness up, so that you don’t have to start from square one when you’re ready to run again. The swimming pool is ideal for people with running injuries. Swimming doesn’t affect your joints, but you can still make a sweat.
When you begin to recover from your injury, you can jog on the water, which means replicating exactly what you would do on the water’s road, getting used to movement again and building endurance.